The Rights of Uber Car Passengers Involved in Chicago-area Accidents

More and more people in the Chicago area are ditching traditional forms of transportation and opting to grab an Uber instead. Uber, a rideshare company based on the west coast, allows those who want to catch a ride to request one via an app, enabling a car or SUV to pick up the rider at the rider’s specified location. Unlike a city bus which follows a specific route, an Uber car can travel anywhere in an approved service area. And unlike a taxi cab which may be difficult to find, an Uber vehicle literally comes to the place where a rider needs it to be within a specified time frame. For many, long gone are the days when they waited on a corner in the rain, trying to grab a ride to make it to work or school on time.

However, as the number of Uber rides and passengers continue to swell in Illinois, so do the number of Uber car accidents that result. Though some of these are minor, many have turned serious and caused injuries to the drivers and passengers involved, leading the victims to wonder where they stand legally and what options they have to get help if a crash affects their lives.

Passengers who were riding in an Uber car at the time of a collision may face a more complicated path to help than those involved in car accidents not involving such a major corporation. First, the victims will need to determine who is legally liable for the crash and whether more than one entity bears the blame. Typically, the driver of an Uber or another driver in another car will have made a mistake or error, leading to the impact between vehicles. However, in other situations, faulty mechanical work, a poorly designed car, negligent maintenance of a road or intersection, or even inclement weather may be blamed for an accident.

The identity of those liable for a collision will determine the next steps taken to protect a victim’s rights if a collision happened in Chicago. If an Uber driver caused an accident, those who are hurt may be able to make a claim for their injuries against the automobile insurance carried by Uber. Typically, the Uber insurance policy is effective from the moment a driver picks up a fare until the driver drops off that fare and the insurance policy far exceeds the minimum standards required by the State of Illinois. However, if another driver caused an accident that left passengers inside an Uber hurt, those victims may be able to recover against the automobile insurance of the driver and/or owner of that at-fault car. In the event that there is not enough insurance to fully compensate a victim, a victim may further be able to make a claim for underinsured motorist coverage against Uber’s insurance.

A typical claim can be made either with or without the use of a lawsuit and can seek payment for all the damages sustained by a victim including medical expenses already incurred and likely to be incurred in the future, lost wages from time missed from work, pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, and the permanency of any damages sustained. In the truly tragic incident that a victim loses her life, the surviving family members or loved ones of that victim may be entitled to payment, though no amount of money can ever be considered adequate to compensate for such an incomprehensible loss.

Though a single or even multiple claims may be possible, Illinois law further requires that victims act within a specified time period, often called a statute of limitations, if they want to receive financial compensation for their damages. This statutory period of time varies depending on who is involved in the crash, including whether an agent of a local, state, or federal government is involved, and therefore victims should obtain advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident if they are interested in pursuing a claim.

Prior Blog Entry:

Why Construction Workers are Often Injured On-the-Job, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 24, 2016.

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